Friday, February 26, 2010

Lobsters Too



Oystering is the main activity for Norm Bloom and Son, but clams and lobsters are part of the business too. We didn't talk much about clamming, but when one of the company lobster boats came into view, the conversation naturally went in that direction. 
In the late 1990's, lobsters in Long Island Sound suffered a widespread die-off that destroyed most of the lobster industry here. There have been many theories about the causes, and Norm seems to believe that it is a combination of these that led to the crash in population.

  1. Lobster populations thrive in colder waters, and decrease as you move southward. The Sound is at the southern end of the larger population area. As water temperatures increased, the Sound became too warm for lobsters to thrive.

  2. The rise in water temperatures allowed a parasite to flourish which destroyed the lobster population.

  3. The use of pesticides, including the extensive spraying to combat West Nile Virus, may have been equally destructive against lobsters.

  4. A transfer of a disease from bait used by lobstermen.

  5. An overpopulation of lobsters brought on by over feeding. The abundance of baited lobster traps led to an increase in size and overpopulation.  Smaller lobsters feed on the bait yet can escape the traps or be thrown back by lobstermen. Too many traps led to an unnatural population.
Time flies when you are talking about lobsters. As Norm finished explaining his theories about the die-off, the crackling of ice against the hull made it clear that we were approaching the dock. After pivoting the boat, he put her in reverse and backed in to the narrow slip. I grabbed the frozen spring line, jumped off the boat at mid ship, and made it fast to the cleat. The lobster boat we had passed followed right behind. 

(More To Follow)
Washington Post: A Knell For Lobsters
Boston Globe: Shell Shocked
Soundbounder: Fruits Of Winter (part one)
Soundbounder: I Love It Out Here... (part two)
Soundbounder: Mary Colman (part three)
Soundbounder: Lifting The Dredge (part four)
Soundbounder: Little Growler (part five)

5 comments:

Erin @ I Heart New England said...

Very interesting- I learned a little bit about that in my Environmental Science class last year.
Really enjoying your blog!

Larry said...

I remember the lobster die off. I don't eat lobster as often as I used too but I love to get it when I go to Maine. I get the sense that the lobster from Maine waters might be a bit healthier.Interesting post and links though-thanks.

matthew houskeeper said...

Thanks Larry, Thanks Erin!

kate said...

you're encouraging me to get my private SCUBA lobster license this summer...I can taste it now! There's nothing more fun than grabbing them right off the bottom!

Anonymous said...

Norm Bloom learned everything he knows from the Hillard Bloom side of the family. If anyone should need any theories about the die -off or anything else about oystering in CT, the place to look for answers is Hillard Bloom Shellfish, that's who put Norm Bloom in business!